New York Red Bulls vs Montreal Impact - Three Questions

With or without Henry, there may not be too much hugging on Saturday. - Richard Wolowicz

A New York team that has yet to win travels north to take on the Montreal Impact who are undefeated through their first three games. Is there a new force to reckon with in the Eastern Conference or are the Impact bound to cool off as the season progresses? We exchanged some questions with Giovanni Sardo of Mount Royal Soccer to find out. You can read some of our thoughts heading into the game here.

Once a Metro: An impressive 3-0 to start the season, especially considering the back-to-back west coast trips Montreal had to make to open the season away against Seattle and Portland. What is the biggest reason in your mind for the club's early success?

Mount Royal Soccer: Our 3-0 is impressive to look at on the stats sheet, not as impressive to look at on the field. While the Impact have been able to start the season off undefeated, they still have a lot of work to do. Montreal's winning streak has come in large parts to staying strong and united defensively. Against Seattle and Portland, we survived being dominated in the last 20-25 minutes to hold on to the victory. In our home opener against TFC last week, we were DOMINATED for the whole second half and were extremely lucky that we escaped with maximum points.

The credit for this 'bend but not break' survival mode goes to our goalkeeper, Troy Perkins, who has been perhaps the best at his position so far this season in the MLS. He has really given this team confidence at the back end, something that last year's keeper, Donovan Ricketts (now in Portland), was never able to do.

Also, the defensive play of Alessandro Nesta, Matteo Ferrari, Hassoun Camara, Jeb Brovsky and midfielder Patrice Bernier has done just enough to keep us ahead at the final whistle.

If we want to keep racking up the wins, the players have to increase their intensity level in the last 25 minutes and keep possession of the ball. If they don't find that killer instinct to finish off games soon, the games will start to have a different, unpleasant ending.

Once a Metro: How key has Alessandro Nesta been for Montreal so far this season? There was a lot of concern about the injury he picked up last weekend, and now it sounds like he will miss the next two weeks. What's the latest you've heard on his status and how will Montreal adjust in his absence?

Mount Royal Soccer: Alessandro Nesta has been everything the team hoped for and more. He is the defensive general. He controls the line, makes sure everyone stays in the right position all while shutting down the opponent's best offensive threat. In short, when he is on the field, if you are an opposing forward, be ready for 90 minutes of hell and frustration.

Nesta definitely won't play this Saturday. The current injury report has him out for two weeks. Considering his age and injury history, that absence may be prolonged to 3 or 4 weeks if we keep accumulating points. There is no reason to rush his return. We need him and we need him healthy.

In order to make up for his absence, current right full back Hassoun Camara will shift into the middle (he is more comfortable as a center back anyway) while Dennis Iapichino will more than likely get some playing time on the right side. Let's get one thing straight, however, NO ONE can replace what Nesta brings to this team. No one.

Once a Metro: It's interesting to note that Montreal has five goals so far this season from five different players. Do you expect the distribution of goals to continue to be spread out as the season moves on or will one or two players start to pull ahead and consistently find the back of the net?

Mount Royal Soccer: Having multiple goal scorers is never a bad thing. It keeps opposing defenses honest, as they know that anyone can step up in any given game and find the back of the net. This is something that every manager would love to have and one that opposing managers hate to play against.

While I do expect the scoring to be spread out during the entire season, Marco Di Vaio is the man who is paid to fill the back of the net. He opened his 2013 account against TFC, he is in excellent form and I expect no less than a tally of 15-20 goals at season's end. The issue for him is service. Our outside midfielders, just like last season, are having communication and timing issues with the Italian bomber. There should be improvement as the season goes on and as the chemistry improves.

One bright spot for Di Vaio has been the play of Bernier and Captain Davy Arnaud. There seems to be a beautiful chemistry forming up the middle of the field. With Bernier playing more of a defensive central midfield role this season, he is able to find Marco up the field and try to connect with a well timed touchdown pass.

Scouting report: Aside from Nesta, will Montreal be affected by other injuries or international call-ups on Saturday? How does the team's depth now compare to last season? Any chance that we will see former Red Bull Sinisa Ubiparipovic?

Midfielder Sanna Nyassi is gone on international duty. Justin Mapp is out with a calf injury. Former Red Bull Sinisa Ubiparipovic is out with a calf injury as well. There is no timetable for his return.

Andrea Pisanu was questionnable last week. He still played but was ineffective and didn't last the full 90 minutes.

Our depth, compared to last season is much stronger. We will be getting full seasons from Marco Di Vaio, Alessandro Nesta, Dennis Iapichino as well as the additions of Pisanu and Andres Romero have only made this team more dangerous.

Probable formation and starting XI:

Troy Perkins

Dennis Iapichino - Hassoun Camara - Matteo Ferrari - Jeb Brovsky

Patrice Bernier - Davy Arnaud

Andrea Pisanu - Felipe - Andres Romero

Marco Di Vaio

Final score prediction? 3-1 Montreal Impact stays undefeated.

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